Cooking may seem like the humdrum business of everyday life. Most people need to have some skill in cooking in order to get through with daily living, though some are just very good at finding food that is already prepared so they can avoid cooking. When people specialize in preparing foods, this becomes not just work but art, and the culinary arts refer to all fields that have to do with the cooking of food or with other work related to cooking.
Most people think of chefs or cooks as being specialists in the culinary arts, and indeed many of them are. Some have completed training either in restaurants or at culinary schools in order to learn how to become excellent cooks. They’re usually not just capable of preparing the occasional good meal, but they learn how to plan meals, menus, and how to run kitchens or supervise other cooks that will work there, like line chefs, sous chefs and pastry chefs. Top chefs in restaurants may also be trained in how to buy food and keep their restaurants stocked, though this responsibility may fall to others. People may not always be top chefs but might work for a top chef and perform various duties in a kitchen from prepping food for cooking to staffing a certain cooking station.
Workers in restaurants who don’t cook are still part of the culinary arts, and they might have a variety of jobs. Some can open or run restaurants, while others are members of the wait staff. Restaurants require managers, hosts or hostesses, buspersons, bartenders, sommeliers, and others experts to keep running.
It isn’t necessary to work in a restaurant to have a career that specializes in the culinary arts. Some people are chefs at kitchens in hospitals, jails, or long term care facilities. Culinary arts specialists could manage chains of restaurants or do all the buying for any facility that needs to produce food. Some people in these fields develop recipes for processed foods, and figure out how to make the best tasting prepared foods that people will enjoy at home.
A career in the culinary arts might be more about encouraging others to enjoy foods or to appreciate certain types of cookery. Those who write cookbooks may never work in a restaurant but have gathered or evolved recipes that will be enjoyed by beginning or advanced cooks. Writers may also critique food as it is prepared at various restaurants, and food and wine critics are often thought of as masters of the culinary arts too.